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Rafa Benitez Heaps Praise On Newcastle Defender

Grant Hanley is a player who may not be fully appreciated at Newcastle and he could still have a good future under Rafa Benitez on Tyneside.

Grant is a dour Scot and a leader both off and on the pitch and those are the type of individuals you want in any successful squad.

Hanley is not the most elegant of players at the back, but the lad can get the job done and he talks all the time and has good communication on the pitch.

Grant Hanley at the end of the game at St. Andrew’s

And it wasn’t surprising he was the Blackburn captain for quite a few years and is still just 25 years old.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has praised his performance on Saturday when Ciaran Clark was not missed too much and we kept our second clean sheet in three games, although we have only picked up 2 points in those games.

Rafa has talked about the Scot’s performance in a game that could not have been easy for him because of his lack of match practice and playing time.

This is what Rafa has said about Grant as reported in the Shields Gazette today:

“I knew he would do well, because he has been training really well right the way through,”

“Even when he was not involved, he was always positive and trying to help his team-mates.”

“He is someone who really talks in defense.”

“It was not easy for him, because their striker is really strong, but he did well.”

It’s positive squad players this season like Grant who are the unlikely heroes for Newcastle for the way they have made the team spirit such a vital factor in Newcastle’s promotion drive.

They deserve credit for that – and they’ll get it too if and when we are promoted.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

31 comments so far

  • sing in the corner

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM

    Comment #1

    Rafa heaps praise on him ….(hopefully because he has decided that he has ‘felt a slight knock’ which means he has to miss the Scotland games) if you get my drift.
    Good lad.

  • Jib

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:16 AM

    Comment #2

    It looks like the PL plans to move away fans to pitchside seats for next season (to generate more atmosphere ) may not be implemented at SJP – they have an exemption on safety grounds.

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:39 AM

    Comment #3

    IMO the starting 11 has become a little bit stale, unless injured the same players can rely on getting their positions. The likes of Hanley, Lazaar and to some extent Murphy & Gamez have not had the same opportunity to bed in and play to their best. I would have liked to include Mbemba but as we found out last week, he is uncontrollable!

  • sparky55

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:44 AM

    Comment #4

    Not one of our defenders are fit for purpose in the PL…and I mean not one!

    Lascelles (who is marginally the best defender of the current crop getting a game) is both slow and ponderous and even a run of the mill fleet of foot premiership striker with turn him inside out and out-think him all day long next year.

    Yes they’ll get the job done this year but the harsh reality is there’s only three premiership quality out-field players in our squad with the rest either being possible survivors or definite no chancers

    Keepers yes all three
    Yedlin…possibly good enough
    Clark nope
    Lacelles slight possibility but a nope in my book.
    Dummet nope
    Anita nope
    Hiadara nope
    Gamez…nope…too old now
    Lazaar possibly
    Hayden possibly
    Colback possibly but probably not
    Ritchie yes
    Shelvey yes
    Gouffy nope
    Diame possibly
    Perez possibly
    Gale possibly
    sick note nope
    Mitro possibly
    Murphy nope

    Lots of issues ahead to name but a few

    1.) Wholesale summer changes will knack the togetherness of the squad
    2.) Will fat lad stump up the money for a squad rebuild
    3.) Will we be able to attract the quality of footballer to keep us up.
    4.) Will Rafa stay if fat lad doesn’t deliver on his promises

    It’s gonna be horrendously difficult next year but in Rafa we trust 🙂 🙂

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:47 AM

    Comment #5

    If it is a decision between playing the fitest eleven each week or keeping a well drilled formation, I would obviously go with the latter as too many changes have negative consequences. However there is a balance and I expect an experienced manager of Rafas capabilities to get it right mie often than not.

  • martoon

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:55 AM

    Comment #6

    Jib @2 – I read somewhere NUFC had applied for an exemption for safety reasons – not sure if it has been accepted as we’re not even in the Premiership yet! However, for purely selfish reasons, I really hope they do because I’ve a horrible feeling my seat could be affected as it is below the away fans behind the goal.

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:55 AM

    Comment #7


    Lascelles, Dummett, Anita and Colback played a part in the upturn in performances at the end of last season, despite our eventual relegation. I do agree that if we are to survive in the PL in our initial season back, it will be through the team performing as a whole and all at their best. Rather than individual excellence and supreme technical ability.

  • one fine day

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:58 AM

    Comment #8

    Jib @2
    Read something on that the other day .
    The directive from the premier league to improve the atmosphere at grounds apparently .
    Lots of opinions as to the pros and cons of having away fans pitch side at st James though .
    It could actually stir up the atmosphere a bit .
    Sure those with season tickets in the lower tiers of the leazes east will view this differently .
    The same article mentioned delegations from nufc have been up to Celtic part looking at the safe standing section too.
    To me that would go a lot further to bring atmosphere back than moving away fans .

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:01 AM

    Comment #9

    If the safety concern is the away fans getting objects thrown on them, they would have to be allocated a section of the East Stand – with a segregation strip thingy.

  • one fine day

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:02 AM

    Comment #10

    It’s also been said here that the reason sometimes away fans can make more noise is that they are so close up to the roof that the acoustics assist in bouncing the noise back down making it louder …bit like singing in the shower

  • one fine day

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:05 AM

    Comment #11

    There have been plenty incidents of the home fans getting objects rained down on them over the years .
    I think the main part of the application to get an exemption though is more to do with segregation and getting away fans in and out of the ground

  • Jib

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    Comment #12

    People do talk such guff on here and all the nodding donkeys agree and go “hear hear”.

    Nobody expects Rafa to knock doors out of windows in his first season (s) in the top flight.

    Currently 13th and taking a point from the Mackems at the stadium of plight Burnley hardly has a team packed with household names:-

    There are plenty in our squad who will be able to do a decent job for a couple of seasons in the PL while “Proyecto Benitez” takes shape.

  • one fine day

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:07 AM

    Comment #13

    All been well and we are actually in the league next year. At least we won’t need to be worrying about seeing the gurning unwashed behind the goal .

  • hibbit

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:09 AM

    Comment #14

    can we not enjoy the season for what it is after all we top of the league . it was never going to be as easy as many on here thought but we are still top which should still give us a little pleasure.enjoy the moment let’s see this team win promotion and then see where we are

    promotion was the only goal this season and we are on track to win it !!!!

  • one fine day

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:12 AM

    Comment #15

    Bang on
    Some short memories here.
    In the dark days of carver ,pardew and maclaren I literally dredded watching our games .
    Now they can’t come around fast enough.

  • martoon

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:14 AM

    Comment #16

    one fine day & Lindisfarne – I think the main problem is entry and exit to the ground. At the moment the away fans entry/exit is on the opposite side of the concourse to the home fans (Leazes End) and the Police can segregate with a barrier very easily. If the away fans were using other entry/exits then segregation would be nearly impossible.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:24 AM

    Comment #17

    After your telling the blog what idiots they were for writing off Riverie who in your opinion would become a top player under the expert guidance of top manager Steve Mclaren I don’t know how you have the brass neck to tell people they are spouting guff.

  • Jib

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:33 AM

    Comment #18

    To me it’s clear as the nose on my face that standing would improve the atmosphere dramatically – just look at the Bundesliga teams .

  • one fine day

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    Comment #19

    Would love seeing the leazes looking like Dortmunds end

  • jimmysmith

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:37 AM

    Comment #20

    “A dour Scot”. Hahaha, Roy of the Rovers stuff.

  • martoon

    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:50 AM

    Comment #21

    I’m getting a bit ‘long in the tooth’ to stand for a whole game but I’m sure there are plenty who would. Again though you are going to have to chuck people out their seats to accommodate a standing area – is that fair?
    I still remember standing in the 70’s – you would get to the ground about 1 – 2 hours early to get a good position and then 5 minutes before kick off some 6′ 6” giant would stand in front of you and blocked most of your view – great days – NOT!

  • Budge123

    Mar 20, 2017 at 10:04 AM

    Comment #23

    Jib – none of the stands are remotely big enough to get that kind of effect unfortunately. One of the reasons why the big banner rather than the flags in the Gallowgate looks better?

    The new standing areas rightly have safety as a priority and thus nothing of the density and excitement and thus atmosphere of the previous terraces.
    Most of those who would most enjoy standing are probably near the away fans currently in the ‘youth’ section. Massive changes all round to get it remotely right.

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    Mar 20, 2017 at 10:14 AM

    Comment #24


    Never read so much bollix!

  • jimmysmith

    Mar 20, 2017 at 10:32 AM

    Comment #25

    Ashley must surely know that without Rafa and substantial backing, we’ll quite likely struggle to stay up once back. He has little alternative but to do the right thing if he wants to be sure of getting a consistent share of this unprecedented epl windfall. He’s relegated us twice. He can hardly imagine it wouldn’t happen again if he reverted back to old ways, or that the fans would have it, after Rafa and what’s gone on before.

  • Jib

    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #26

    Someone mentioned Siem de Jong earlier.
    He’s coming back into form at just the right time.


    I hope he can stay healthy

  • Jib

    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #27

    Jail @ 17

    Is that it ?

    What a fantastic contributor to the blog you are !!!

  • martoon

    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #28

    jimmysmith @25 – I’m sure Ashley does know this but the worry is he will revert to type. That is he will try to just spend enough to survive in the Premiership so instead of buying a striker that is top of Rafa’s list we buy the one that is, say, third on his list etc.

  • Rotonda heights

    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:25 AM

    Comment #29


    I think it makes it all the more remarkable how well rafa has done, because this squad, bar 3 or 4 is no great shakes by any stretch of the imagination.

    Gayle, Ritchie, Shelvey maybe, then I’m struggling. Perez, Lascelles, Yedlin and Atsu on a good day perhaps and the keepers aren’t too shabby either.

    However, I expect a massive out tray to be headed up by Colback and Diame if we indeed do get back to the promised land.

  • Jib

    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #30

    Rafa Benitez in his 6 years at Anfield bought 79 players for £230 million (£300m at current values)
    His net spend however was only £16 million !!! (over 6 years)
    I’m sure Ashley is aware of this
    A successful Rafa will make NUFC pots of dosh.

  • toonincheek

    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    Comment #31

    Jib @30

    Those are very very impressive figures for Benitez.


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